An epicuticular multilayer reflector generates the iridescent coloration in chrysidid wasps (Hymenoptera, Chrysididae)

J. Kroiss, E. Strohm, C. Vandenbem, J.-P. Vigneron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Chrysidid wasps in the subfamily Chrysidinae are brood parasitoids or cleptoparasites of other insects and famous for their cuticular iridescence. In this study, we examine the dorsal abdominal cuticle of the chrysidid wasp Hedychrum rutilans to identify the underlying color mechanism. Using scanning electron microscopy, reflectance spectral analysis, and theoretical calculations, we demonstrate the presence of an epicuticular multilayer reflector consisting of six lamellae with a thickness of 185 nm each. The lamellae exhibit a rough surface probably functioning as spacers between the individual layers. The reflector has a measured reflectance maximum at λ∈=∈630 nm, i.e., in the red part of the visible spectrum of light at normal incidence and the reflectance maximum shifts to green as the angle of incidence increases. Complementary theoretical modeling corroborates the view that the epicuticular multilayer generates the iridescent color of the chrysidid cuticle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-986
Number of pages4
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


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